Exploring Spain’s State Museums: A Guide for International Museum Day 2023

International Museum Day 2023
Photo by Rui Alves on Unsplash

Do you love visiting museums and learning about history, art, and culture? Well, you’re in luck because May 18th is International Museum Day, a day to celebrate the vital role that museums play in our society. This year’s theme, “Museums, Sustainability and Well-being,” reminds us that museums are not just about preserving the past, but also about promoting sustainable development and enhancing our well-being.

International Museum Day has been celebrated annually since 1977, when it was established by the International Council of Museums (ICOM). The goal was to raise awareness about the importance of museums and to encourage people to visit them. Since then, International Museum Day has become a global event, with museums around the world opening their doors for free or offering special exhibitions and activities.

In Spain, there are plenty of state museums that offer visitors a chance to learn about the country’s rich history and culture. From prehistoric artifacts to medieval art to modern sculpture, there’s something for everyone. So, why not take advantage of International Museum Day to explore the museums in your area and discover something new about Spain’s cultural heritage?

Spain is divided into 50 provinces, each with its own unique history, culture, and attractions. Here is a list of some of the most important state museums that participate in each of the provinces, along with a short description of each museum. To learn more about each museum and their collections, click on the museum name to be taken directly to their website and start exploring – and don’t forget to checkout our Map of Museums at the end. 

Araba/Álava

Artium Museum: This contemporary art museum is located in the city of Vitoria-Gasteiz and is dedicated to exhibiting the work of Basque artists as well as international contemporary art.

Albacete

Museo Municipal de la Cuchillería de Albacete: This museum is located in the city of Albacete and showcases the history of cutlery production in the region, including the traditional methods of knife-making.

Alicante

MARQ – Museu Arqueològic d’Alacant: This museum is located in the city of Alicante and exhibits the region’s rich archaeological history, including the remains of ancient settlements, Roman ruins, and Islamic artifacts.

Almería

Museo de Arqueólogico de Almeria: This museum is located in the city of Almería and features exhibits on the history, art, and culture of the region, with a focus on the area’s Islamic and Roman past.

Asturias

Museo del pueblo de Asturias: This ethnographic museum is located in the city of Gijón and showcases the traditions, customs, and lifestyle of the Asturian people throughout history.

Ávila

Museo de Ávila: This museum is located in the city of Ávila and features exhibits on the city’s history and cultural heritage, including its famous walls and medieval architecture.

Badajoz

MUBA – Museo de Bellas Artes de Badajoz: This museum is located in the city of Badajoz and houses a collection of art from the 16th to the 20th century, with a focus on works by Spanish artists.

Barcelona

Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya: This museum is located on a hilltop in the city of Barcelona and features a collection of Romanesque and Gothic art, as well as works from the Renaissance and Baroque periods.

Burgos

MEH – Museo de la Evolución Humana: This museum is located in the city of Burgos and showcases the region’s rich archaeological history, including the remains of early human ancestors and the nearby Atapuerca fossil site.

Cáceres

Museo de Cáceres: This museum is located in the city of Cáceres and features exhibits on the history and culture of the region, with a focus on the city’s medieval architecture and Jewish heritage.

Cádiz

Museo de Cádiz: This museum is located in the city of Cádiz and houses a collection of art and artifacts from the region’s ancient past, including Phoenician and Roman ruins.

Cantabria

Museo Nacional y Centro de Investigación de Altamira: This museum is located in the town of Santillana del Mar and features exhibits on the prehistoric art and culture of the region, including the famous cave paintings of Altamira.

Castellón

Museo de Bellas Artes de Castellón: This museum is located in the city of Castellón de la Plana and houses a collection of art from the 15th to the 20th century, with a focus on works by Valencian artists.

Ciudad Real

Museo de Ciudad Real: This museum is housed in a historic building that dates back to the 16th century, and features a beautiful central courtyard and several exhibition halls It is also known as the Provincial Museum of Ciudad Real and is located in the historic center of the city. The museum’s collection is dedicated to the archaeology and history of the province of Ciudad Real, which includes the areas of La Mancha and Campo de Montiel. The museum’s collection includes a range of archaeological artifacts from prehistoric to medieval times, as well as fine arts, decorative arts, and ethnography. Some of the highlights of the museum’s collection include Iberian and Roman artifacts, medieval art and architecture, and traditional crafts and customs from the region.

Córdoba

Museo de Bellas Artes de Córdoba: This museum is located in the city of Córdoba and features a collection of art from the 15th to the 20th century, with a focus on works by Andalusian artists.

Cuenca

Museo de Arte Abstracto Español. Fundación Juan March: This museum is located in the city of Cuenca and features works by some of Spain’s most important abstract artists from the 1950s and 60s.

Girona

Museu d’Història dels Jueus: This museum is located in the city of Girona and focuses on the history and culture of the Jewish community in the region, including their expulsion from Spain in 1492.

Granada

Museo de la Alhambra: This museum is located in the famous Alhambra Palace complex in the city of Granada and features exhibits on the history and culture of the Moors in Spain, including Islamic art and architecture.

Guadalajara

Museo de Guadalajara: This museum is located in the city of Guadalajara and is the oldest provincial museum in Spain – opened in 1838. The Museum of Guadalajara, Spain is housed in a stunning late Gothic building constructed circa 1480 by architect Juan Guas and carver Egas Coeman. This beautiful and charismatic structure was commissioned by the II Duke of Infantado.

The museum’s main façade and its “Patio de los Leones” (Courtyard of the Lions) are particularly noteworthy, boasting exceptional architectural design and craftsmanship. Visitors can admire the intricate details and Gothic elements of the building while exploring the museum’s extensive collection of art and historical artifacts.

Guipúzcoa

San Telmo Museum: This museum is located in the city of San Sebastian and features exhibits on the history and culture of the Basque Country, including traditional Basque art, music, and folklore.

Huelva

Museo de Huelva: This museum is located in the city of Huelva and features exhibits on the history and culture of the region, including its mining industry and famous Columbus sites.

Huesca

Museo de Huesca: This museum is located in the city of Huesca and features exhibits on the history and culture of the region, including prehistoric artifacts and Roman ruins.

Jaén

Museo Provincial de Jaén: This museum is located in the city of Jaén and features exhibits on pre-Roman & ancient art treasures. The building is a 16th-century-inspired, neoclassical palace.

La Coruña

Domus Science Museum: This museum is located in the city of La Coruña and focuses on the human body and its relationship with science, technology, and art.

La Rioja

Vivanco Museum of Wine Culture: This museum is located in the town of Briones and features exhibits on the history and culture of wine-making in the region, including a vast collection of wine-related artifacts.

Las Palmas

Museo Canario: This museum is located in the city of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and features exhibits on the history and culture of the Canary Islands, including traditional Canarian crafts and music.

León

Museo de León: This museum is located in the city of León and features exhibits on the history and culture of the region, including prehistoric artifacts, art and coins.

Lleida

Museu de Lleida: This local history museum is located in the city of Lleida and features exhibits on the history and culture of the region, including medieval art and architecture

Lugo

Museo Provincial de Lugo: This museum is located in the city of Lugo and features exhibits on the history and culture of the region, including prehistoric artifacts and art. The building is a former monastery.

Madrid

Museo Nacional del Prado: This museum is located in the city of Madrid and features one of the world’s greatest collections of European art, including works by Spanish masters such as Velázquez, Goya, and El Greco masterpieces. A vast 12th- to 19th-century collection.

Málaga

Museo Picasso Málaga: This museum is located in the city of Málaga and features a collection of works by the famous Spanish artist Pablo Picasso, including paintings, drawings, and sculptures.

Murcia

Museo Salzillo: This museum is located in the city of Murcia and features a collection of famous 18th Century Spanish baroque sculptor, Francisco Salzillo, including his famous nativity scenes.

Navarra

Museo de Navarra: This museum is located in the city of Pamplona and features exhibits on the history and culture of the region, including prehistoric artifacts, medieval art, and traditional Navarrese costumes.

Orense

Museo Arqueolóxico Provincial de Ourense: This museum is located in the city of Orense and features exhibits on the prehistoric and Roman history of the region, including a collection of Roman mosaics.

Palencia

Museo de Palencia: This museum is located in the city of Palencia and features exhibits on the history and culture of the region, including prehistoric artifacts and Roman ruins.

Pontevedra

Museo Provincial de Pontevedra: This museum is located in the city of Pontevedra and features exhibits on the history and culture of the region, including medieval art and architecture.

Salamanca

Casa de Lis – Art Nouveau and Art Deco Museum: This museum is in a mansion located in the city of Salamanca and features a collection of decorative art objects, jewelry and a doll collection.

Santa Cruz de Tenerife

MUNA – Museo de Naturaleza y Arqueología: This museum is located in the city of Santa Cruz de Tenerife and features exhibits on the natural history and culture of the Canary Islands, including the Guanche mummies.

Segovia

Casa del Sol – Museo de Segovia: This museum, a former fortress, is located in the city of Segovia and features exhibits on the history and culture of the region, including Roman aqueducts and medieval art.

Sevilla

Museo de Bellas Artes de Sevilla: This museum is a 2-story, 17th Century ornate palace and is located in the city of Seville. It features a collection of Spanish art from the medieval period to the 20th century, including works by Greco, Murillo, Zurbarán, and Velázquez.

Soria

Museo Numantino: This museum is located in the city of Soria and features exhibits on the prehistoric and Roman history of the region, including a collection of Celtiberian artifacts.

Tarragona

Museu Nacional Arqueològic de Tarragona: This museum is located in the city of Tarragona and features exhibits on the Roman history of the region, including a collection of Roman mosaics and sculptures.

Teruel

Museo Provincial de Teruel: This museum is located in the city of Teruel and features exhibits on the history and culture of the region, including medieval art and architecture.

Toledo

Museo de Santa Cruz: This museum, a former medieval hospital with a courtyard, is located in the city of Toledo. It features exhibits on the history and culture of the region, works by El Greco, Roman mosaics and medieval art.

Valencia

Museu de Belles Arts de València: This museum is in a 17th Century building located in the city of Valencia. It features a vast collection of major Valencian and Flemish artists.

Valladolid

Colegio de San Gregorio – Museo Nacional de Escultura: This museum is located in an ornate former church in the city of Valladolid. Here you will find medieval & modern sculptures,including works by Berruguete and Gregorio Fernández.

Vizcaya

Museum of Fine Arts of Bilbao: This museum is located in the city of Bilbao and features a collection of Spanish art from the medieval period to the 20th century, including works by El Greco, Goya, and Picasso.

Zamora

Museo Etnográfico de Castilla y León: This museum is located in the city of Zamora and features exhibits on the traditional customs and way of life of the people of the region.

Vizcaya

Museum of Fine Arts of Bilbao: This museum is located in the city of Bilbao and features a collection of Spanish art from the medieval period to the 20th century, including works by El Greco, Goya, and Picasso.

Zaragoza

Museo de Zaragoza: This museum is located in the city of Zaragoza and features exhibits on the history and culture of the region, including Roman and Islamic artifacts, and paintings by Goya.

Ceuta

Fundación Museo del Mar de Ceuta: This maritime museum is located in the Spanish enclave of Ceuta on the North African coast and features exhibits on the history of the region, including fishing, navigation, and trade.

Melilla

Museo de Arqueología e Historia: This museum is located in the Spanish enclave of Melilla on the North African coast and features exhibits on the prehistoric, Phoenician, and Roman history of the region, including a collection of Roman mosaics.

Map of Museums

International Museum Day is an opportunity to celebrate the cultural and educational role of museums in society. In Spain, there are many state museums that offer visitors a chance to learn about the rich history and culture of the country. Whether you’re interested in prehistoric artifacts, medieval art, or modern sculpture, there is a museum in Spain that will fascinate and inspire you. So why not take advantage of International Museum Day to explore the museums in your area and discover something new about Spain’s rich cultural heritage?

Postcards from the Road